Month: December 2012

Do You Look Just Right?

thinner Model Banned in Spain

Eating disorders and body altering techniques are glorified in today’s media, leaving people, particularly children and teens, with a skewed view of what it is to be “normal”.

What we should be focused on is how an individual can safely obtain the physique they wish to have, techniques designed to battle counter-productive practices, and the importance of embracing one’s body the way it is. In some television programs, there are often scenes that depict young people exemplifying destructive eating behaviors. These acts are laughed off as if they are to be expected, placing eating disorders in a positive light. If popular media continues to glorify such detrimental habits, our country will surely reap the consequences.

Remember the family-friendly 90s classic Parent Trap starring America’s sweetheart Lindsay Lohan? What about the seemingly endless films that child stars Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen appeared in? Every little girl in America wanted to be them and every parent in America was more than willing to pop in those movies and let their children be swept off to another world. While Lindsay Lohan and the Olsen twins might have been a positive role model as young girls, they are now epitome of what not to do. Their lives are constantly in the public eye for drug use, endless partying, and most importantly, how rapidly their bodies grow thin. The young girls that idolized these women as children may very well still look up to these fallen starlets and mimic their behavior, no matter how destructive; after all, imitation is the highest form of flattery.

How one sees their body can be the beginning of an eating disorder. Far too often, society associates being thin, with hard working, beautiful, strong and self-disciplined. On the other hand, being fat is associated with being lazy, ugly, weak and lacking will power. Because of these harsh critiques, women are hardly ever completely satisfied with their body. However, women are not alone in being self-conscious about their bodies. Men and women alike often feel a great deal of pressure to achieve and/or maintain an imagery, and sometimes, attainable appearance.

Over time, the ideal body image has changed, causing people to adapt to new standards of beauty. For many centuries, being thin implied that you were poor and had no means of eating in excess. Being a full figured man or woman was a sign of wealth and beauty. Beginning in the 1800s, the word diet began to creep into our vernacular. Initially, dieting advice was only aimed at men because women were expected to be curvy and voluptuous. During the turn of the century, woman became more active and began playing sports. At this time, we started seeing weight as a part of science with the study of calories, ideal weight and body mass index. Come the 1950s, curves were brought back with a bang by Marilyn Monroe. marilyn-monroe-1She singlehandedly resurrected curves with her dramatic hourglass figure and became a powerhouse sex symbol after appearing on the first issue of Playboy Magazine in 1954. Even so, as the decades went on, a little extra flab became something to be ashamed of and slender became the idolized figure.

Many kids — particularly adolescents — are worried about how they look and may feel self-conscious about their bodies. “This can be especially true when they are going through puberty, and undergo substantial physical changes while facing new social pressures” (Levitt, Sansone, Cohn) , and transitioning from middle school to high school. Sadly, for a moderate number of kids and teens, that worry can lead to an obsession that may grow into an eating disorder. Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa cause dramatic weight fluctuation, interfere with normal daily life, and can permanently affect their health.

People with anorexia have an extreme fear of weight gain and a distorted view of their body size and shape. As a result, they strive to maintain a very low body weight. Some restrict their food intake by dieting, fasting, or excessive exercise. People with anorexia try to eat as little as possible, and take in as few calories as they can, frequently obsessing over food intake. Anorexia causes health issues such as hair loss, permanent bone loss, fatigue, constipation, kidney failure, abnormally low heart rate and blood pressure, etc.

Bulimia is characterized by habitual binge eating and purging. “Someone with bulimia may undergo weight fluctuations, but rarely experiences the low weight associated with anorexia”(Lawrie, Sullivan, Davies) . Both disorders can involve compulsive exercise or other forms of purging food eaten, such as by self-induced vomiting or laxative use. Bulimia, like anorexia, causes a variety of health complications such as irritation of esophagus, stomach, salivary glands and throat from persistent vomiting, gastric erosion of the enamel, irregular heartbeat and more. It is important to remember that eating disorders can spin out of hand very easily and are difficult habits to break. Eating disorders are serious clinical problems that require professional treatment by nutritionists, doctors, and therapists.

Works Cited

American Society of Nephrology. “Bodybuilding With Steroids Damages Kidneys.” ScienceDaily, 30 Oct. 2009. Web. 23 Nov. 2012.

Levenkron, Steven. The Best Little Girl in the World. Puffin: Grand Central, 1996. Print.

Hornbacher, Marya. Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia. New York, NY: HarperPerennial, 1999. Print.

Levitt, John L., Randy A. Sansone, and Leigh Cohn. Self-harm Behavior and Eating Disorders: Dynamics, Assessment, and Treatment. New York: Brunner- Routlegde, 2004. Print.

Lawrie, Z., E. A. Sullivan, P. S. W. Davies, and R. J. Hill. “Media Influence on the Body Image of Children and Adolescents.” Eating Disorders 14.5 (2006): 355-64. Print.
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The Highs and Lows of Collegiate A Cappella


Preparation and performance in collegiate a cappella goes well beyond what audiences see on stage. What used to be known as just an interesting and fun extra curricular activity is now becoming extremely competitive and growing in popularity all over the country.

While television shows, such as Glee, provide exciting and dramatic entertainment dealing with a cappella and the musical world, they don’t portray a cappella groups in a realistic manner. Indeed they are entertaining to watch and people can become deeply involved with songs and storylines, a cappella groups put a lot of effort and dedication into their performances and the process leading up to them. In order to pull a group together it takes auditions, arranging, song selection, learning, and so much more.

Being in an a cappella group is like being in a family. You spend so much time together and all have a passion for singing and performing. In some cases, if more than one group appears on a campus they can become extremely competitive with each other. This competitiveness can amplify when groups decide to compete. Competition is a way to reach out to other groups and see what is going on across the country.

One of the biggest competitions in the a cappella world is SoJam. This specific competition chooses seven groups to compete against each other over the course of a weekend. Along with the concerts there is a professional concert, workshops, and acabombs. It is really helpful to hear different opinions through the workshops and get to know different groups to learn from them.

This year’s SoJam competition was taken over by the Nor’easters from Northeastern University. They did a phenomenal job in the concerts and won over the crowd by a landslide. One of their biggest strengths was their arrangements. They were composed by one of their own members and fit the dynamics of the group well. The emotion they poured into each song also made them really stand out among the other groups.

Most audiences while watching a competition or a performance, doesn’t really understand the effort put behind each song. All they see is the final product. Songs don’t just magically come together into perfect blends of harmonies and sounds. Choreography doesn’t just come naturally and flow all the time. Sounds aren’t produced out of thin air to come together and sound like instruments. All of this takes practice and dedication.

Being in an a cappella group myself I get to see first hand the work that is put into the songs and the focus everyone has to have to pull them off. The first time I heard about a cappella was when my stepdad played a CD of my stepbrother’s a cappella group. My first impression was that it was kind of funny and didn’t really sound like a great way to spend time. My stepdad then encouraged me to go see one of my brother’s concerts in Chapel Hill. I was truly amazed by the performance! It was completely not what I had expected. The way a group of sixteen people could work together to form sounds the imitated instrument noises was incredible.

Soon after this concert, a new show called Glee aired on Fox Network. Glee was a show about a group of high school misfits who came together in a glee club and shared in a world of singing. This really jumpstarted everyone’s new obsession with a cappella and arrangements. The Glee cast was dominating ITunes and YouTube and the show’s arrangements were even available in sheet music so groups could perform them. In the show, the characters can just suddenly burst into musical perfection and sing their worries away through fantastic arrangements. Realistically this is not how songs are created and arranged for groups.

Some a cappella groups across the country use a tool called Finale. Instead of plucking away notes on a keyboard, you can just plug them into Finale and play it back to hear how everything sounds. This is also how some groups learn and teach the finished products. By playing the arrangement back, each voice part can hear what it sounds like separately and learn to sing their notes.

While the world of a cappella is a wonderful place to live throughout college, it seems a bit unrealistic to continue on with it as a career. Shows like The Sing Off, however, have created wonderful opportunities for people to come together and compete in a professional setting. They are designed to entertain as well as give groups the opportunity to show that they can handle the pressures of being professional. One of the biggest groups to come off and win the show is Pentatonix. Made up of only five vocalists, they ended up winning the third season of The Sing Off and continue to perform today.

The world of a cappella can be confusing and competitive, but that is what keeps it interesting and entertaining. There is more to performances than what audiences see. They look at it and see a group of people making instrument noises and blending well together. The time and effort put into each song and set can also be projected depending on how the group performs. From a somewhat nerdy way to spend free time, a cappella has certainly become a popular thing to be involved in. There are hundreds of collegiate a cappella groups across the country and they all demonstrate a passion for what they do and are proud to be in an a cappella family.


 “Give Me Love”-Nor’easters (Northeastern University)-SoJam 2012 Competition. 2012. Web. 11 Dec 2012. “Give Me Love”

“Competition.” SoJam A Cappella Festival. Living Fiction Media, n.d. Web. 11 Dec. 2012. SoJam

“Pentatonix Official Website.” Pentatonix. Section 101, n.d. Web. 11 Dec. 2012. Pentatonix

“From the Finale Blog.” Finale Music Composing & Notation Software. MakeMusic, Inc., n.d. Web. 11 Dec. 2012. Finale


 Nor’easters SoJam Win. Digital image. CASA. The Contemporary A Cappella Society, n.d. Web. Nor’easters SoJam Win

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Internships: Today’s Slave Work?


image from BunkerLawGroup

Internship programs are not adequately preparing their interns with the necessary skills required to thrive in a career. Many work tirelessly and are not properly compensated. The focus is no longer on the intern, but the employers finding free labor within a difficult job market.

Internship programs were established to give people an opportunity to be part of the workforce and gain vital experience. It is also a time to make essential connections with future employers. They have been considered excellent resume builders that increase the marketability of an individual. In an article by Jennifer Bay she describes her idea of an internship’s purpose by saying “Internships or experiential learning situations are popular ways for universities to address student desire for career preparation”. She also suggests that all the work must be relevant to what the rest of the workplace is doing.  Sadly, her view is overly idealistic and does not align with the true nature of these practices.

One of the main issues is the lack of payment interns receive. Compensation is not required for an individual’s efforts if the employers stay within the Labor Department’s guidelines. According to an article from The New York Times, “The Labor Department says that if employers do not want to pay their interns, the internships must resemble vocational education… cannot not be of immediate benefit to the employer” (Greenhouse). Specific boundaries have been set, yet little is stopping employers from exploiting their interns. In an article from TIME , Diana Wang recounts her experience interning and how the company took advantage of her. Like many others, she too was given jobs that make the intern feel that they are not contributing to the progression of the business. This has become one of the largest stigmas associated with interning. The coffee mug above gives a comedic example of a ‘job’ an intern might be given. It shows a green coffee mug that reads “Fill This, Intern.” This shows how widespread the belief is that interns are forced to do tasks that waste their talents, and provides no educational experience. It makes an individual seem inconsequential and worthless.


Image from PBS

These recognized issues are not stopping many students. With the unemployment rate at an all time high, students with little to no resume continue to flock towards these “opportunities”. However, the demanding schedule leaves no room for one to find a second, paid job. While some are completing meaningless tasks, others are operating on the same caliber as the rest of the employees. With the majority of their time spent slaving away, while trying to sustain themselves, it can be very easy for one to quickly fall into debt.  This image shows just how terrifying debt is and how it can easily creep on one if they are not careful. Juggling all the responsibilities of work and home life, especially if one is newly independent, can quickly becoming overwhelming. Having no source of income only adds to the anxiety.

Employers do not have free reign over how they treat their interns. Intern Nation by Ross Perlin lists the required criteria that must be met.  The rules are meant to ensure that the employer and employee have a clear understanding of the extent of their duties and give fair compensation for these efforts. Perlin says, “…but if even one of the six criteria is not met, the internship is legally considered a job, bringing the benefits of the minimum wage, overtime pay, and associated rights.”. The same article from Time shares the story of Eric Glatt , who worked on set for the film Black Swan. His job was not even listed as an intern. He was listed as an accounting clerk. He was working full days in a position that is normally paid. It resulted in Glatt filing a lawsuit against Fox Searchlight. People, such as him, are bravely leading the charge toward fair treatment.

Interning is not an unsalvageable practice. Many programs that run through universities are highly structured and provide educational experiences. Internships can often build into the curriculum and work toward better understanding of a concept. A scholarly article that came out of Wayne State University  shows us how a highly structured internship that’s organized by the school can be a worthy time investment. Three examples are given of students who attended the University. All of the internships directly aligned with their respective majors. These interns were also paid. “This position is taken for a sound sociological reason: it teaches the intern and the sponsor that sociological skills deserve and require compensation” (Kelly). It teaches the students what to expect when working and sets a standard so they accept no less than they deserve.  This scholarly article is a perfect example of how an internship program can run at the optimal efficiency.

Internship programs have the potential to be the perfect transition between school and full- time employment. However, The system is still imperfect and people have been allowed to slip by without facing the consequences. Not all internship programs are corrupt or unfair, but enough evidence is present to support the claim that interning is not always the best course of action and may not be the best place to invest one’s time and energy.

Works Cited

The Uneven Playing Field of Unpaid Internships.” Cartoon. PBS. PBS, 09 May 2012. Web. 25 Oct. 2012.

Unpaid Internships and Small Businesses. N.d. Photograph. Unpaid Internships. Web. 30 Oct. 2012.

Perlin, Ross. Intern Nation: How to Earn Nothing and Learn Little in the Brave New Economy. London: Verso, 2011. Print

Greenhouse, Steven. “Jobs Few, Grads Flock to Unpaid Internships.” 6 May 2012: n. pag. The New York Times. The New York Times, 05 May 2012. Web. 9 Oct. 2012.

Sanburn, Josh. “The Beginning of the End of the Unpaid Internship.” N.p., 2 May 2012. Web. 30 Oct. 2012.

Bay, Jennifer. Preparing Undergraduates for Careers: An Argument for the Internship Practicum. N.p., Nov. 2006. Web.

Kelly, Robert F. Teaching Graduate Applied Sociology Through Internships: Program Development, Management, and Problems. N.p., n.d. Web.

Loretto, Penny. “New Department of Labor Guidelines on Internships.” Internships. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Dec. 2012.
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Childhood Obesity: Who’s to Blame?


More and more children are becoming obese… What’s the reason?

The spike in weight gain that the current generation of children is experiencing is the fault of parents because they influence what their children eat, how often they exercise, and what values they have.

The life expectancy of each consecutive generation has been steadily climbing upward, until now. In some areas, up to a third of children are obese and the majority of them will grow into obese adults, which will lead to younger deaths. But do we blame our current society for making it easy to be inactive or making unhealthy food also the cheapest, most convenient food? No. Parents are those who should care the most about their child’s quality of life and life expectancy but recent studies show how detrimental parent’s actions can be to their children’s health.

Obesity in a child is directly linked to how he was raised because from a child’s first breath to the moment he reaches independence, parents are responsible for developing his eating habits. It is important to begin fostering proper nutrition early because people develop their food preferences and their general patterns of eating early on in childhood. Children are more likely to eat foods that they are exposed repeatedly early on in life (Lindsay 171). Parents need to realize that the foods and drinks their children are exposed to will remain embedded in their subconscious and affect their likelihood of being healthy.


Monitoring food choices is not only important in the first few years but parents also have the responsibility of maintaining a healthy household until the child leaves the nest. In order to prevent weight gain, parents should limit the times they go out to dinner or order fast food and pizza. Unhealthy food should be limited and healthy low calorie snacks should be made readily available to kids of all ages. When kids come to the age where they have to eat meals at school, parents can pack them a healthy nutritious lunch rather than the convenient route of handing them 5 dollars and hoping they don’t spend it all on cookies.

Similarly to their responsibility to foster good nutrition, parents need to promote physical activity in their child’s life. Some may assume that it is part of the child’s personality, their natural likes and dislikes, if they enjoy being active. This is proven false by studies that show children are more likely to be active if their parents are (O’dea 300). Young children don’t know what exercise is or how to be active so they are fully relying on the responsible adults in their lives to promote safe opportunities for physical activity (Hills 54).


Parents who are active are more likely to have kids that are active as well.

If physical activity doesn’t seem like a factor in preventing obesity, read into the many studies that prove “physical activity is associated with lowering risks of accelerated weight gain and excess adiposity among preschool aged children” (Lindsay 172). Having a proven, studied method of prevention for a disease and then not utilizing it to its fullest potential is a reason that their children are growing wider. If exercise is a normal part of a child’s life, they will forever keep making good choices to protect that body. Parents however are main promoters of exercise and if they fail to do so, their children will have a greater risk of becoming obese.

In addition to simply enforcing how to eat and exercise, parents must also be role models in every aspect of health. One study showed that the likeliness that a child would be active increased when both of his parents were also active (Lindsay 172). When a whole family becomes involved in a fitness program, the changes are easier to make because the child will have endless outlets of support to turn to (Hills 154). Parents and older role models can greatly impact the life decisions that a child makes, and proven by studies, children will have a greater desire to be active if their role models are too.


Parents use television and video games as free babysitters.

Parents who are inactive can have the same effect. When parents watch two or more hours of TV a day, their children are twice as likely to be inactive than in families where parents make watching TV a special treat (Lindsay 173). Parents shouldn’t let children have TV’s in their bedrooms, however the majority of parents see TV as a free babysitter and a way to easily entertain their children with little effort so many are putting TV’s in their children’s rooms. About 68% of children have a television in their bedroom (Lindsay 174). Excessive TV viewing has been linked to weight gain so parents should be enforcing rules that limit screen time among their children.

Nutritionally, parents should practice what they preach in order for their children to latch on to the healthy behaviors they need to avoid becoming obese. A child will eat what and how their parents eat.

If a child notices that his dad grabs a snack every time he sits down in front of the TV, the child will do the same probably for his whole life. If a child notices that his parents eat heaping portions of “bad” foods, the child will know that this is normal and he will try to do the same to be like his parents.

Ultimately, if parents can establish healthy eating habits and a love for physical activity while also practicing the rules they preach, childhood obesity can be avoided. Hopefully parents will become enlightened with the knowledge that it is their fault that their children are becoming obese and once they accept that, they can take the necessary measures to reverse the epidemic and prevent it from happening again.

Works Cited:

Hills, Andrew (Editor), Neil King (Editor) and Nuala Byrne (Editor). Children, Obesity and Exercise. New York: Routledge, 2007. Print.

Lindsay, Ana C. “The Role of Parents in Preventing Childhood Obesity”. The Future of Children, Vol. 16, No. 1, pp. 169-186. Princeton University Spring, 2006. Web. 30 Oct. 2012.

O’dea, Jennifer (Editor), and Michael Eriksen (Editor). Childhood Obesity Prevention: International Research, Controversies and Interventions. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010. Print.


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Community, 30 Rock, Arrested Development: Reinventing the Sitcom

The brilliant ensemble cast of NBC's Community

The brilliant ensemble cast of NBC’s Community (Pardee)

In recent years the biggest innovation in the television industry has occurred in writing style, which now focuses more on genuine character development and thoroughly polished fast paced humor. Three shows in particular have lead the charge towards a new age in television: Arrested Development, 30 Rock and Community.

The most notable innovators who revolutionized the television industry—Tina Fey, Mitchell Hurwitz and Dan Harmon have transformed the 20-minute situational comedy into a respected art form.

The first show to break through and rise above the cesspool of average television programming was Arrested Development. In the summer of 2002, the veteran television actor, producer and writer Ron Howard enlisted the help of an up and coming writer by the name of Mitch Hurwitz to help create a new sitcom about a dysfunctional family that went from riches to rags.  Hurwitz developed his characters more before Arrested Development started than most sitcoms do after several seasons. The effort he put in gave his characters greater depth and authenticity and created a more genuine world for them to inhabit. The show was incredibly quick and had much more complex storylines than the average sitcom. Because the humor was so fast-paced, witty and at times so subtle that it required viewers to rewind and watch several times in order to fully appreciate every episode.

Arrested Development influenced many following sitcoms, pushing writers and producers to increase the quality of their shows even if they would not necessarily be commercial hits. The show proved that sitcoms could be more than just mindless entertainment. A documentary was even made to examine just how groundbreaking and influential. Just from watching the trailer you can get an idea:

The year Arrested Development ended, a new show emerged to take its place as the smartest comedy on television—30 Rock. With all of the obstacles that face a television show, Fey managed to create something that stood out amongst all the bland sitcoms that seemed to be an endless repetition of tropes and stereotypes. Fey’s show set itself apart from other shows by creating a realistic world inhabited by genuine, well-developed characters. The most impressive thing about 30 Rock is the writing; each episode is packed with fast-paced jokes that move the plot forward (Edgerton). 30 Rock is especially successful when it comes to social and political commentary, perfectly weaving ernest commentary into every hilarious joke.

Tina Fey’s 30 Rock has been recognized by critics and fans as one of the most imaginative and unique shows on television. Over the course of its seven-year run, the show won 14 primetime Emmy awards and six Golden Globe awards (IMBd). The show also marked a significant breakthrough for women in comedy, becoming the most critically acclaimed show to be created by a woman.  The show exemplifies a sitcom made for the fans and not for the network executives—not worrying primarily about its Nielsen Rating but rather focusing on pleasing its fan base.

The most recent show to revolutionize the sitcom was Community. Dan Harmon created the show in 2009 and immediately committed to character development. Dan Harmon said that no matter what happens in the show, the continuity of the characters and their personalities are the primary concerns. Aside from the incredibly real, genuine characters and the fast, witty humor, Community managed to do something more than Arrested Development and 30 Rockgenre hopping (Tigges). Community is primarily a comedy, but it is not afraid to go where no show has gone before and practically rearrange the entire setup of the show (as you can see in the image below), while still keeping the characters firmly grounded in the real world.

The best word to describe Community would be “meta;” it is very self aware, which makes the show incredibly unique. Watching Community can be seen as a study of television. The show often takes a step back and tells the viewers that it is changing directions or using a trope, showing viewers the inside tricks of the television industry. This is best exemplified by the character in the show named Abed. Abed is a major television geek who knows everything there is to know about the entertainment industry. The storyline also suggests that he might have aspergers. Abed is constantly relating his life to television, which might sound like a cheap plot device but his character is so well developed and so genuine that it is completely believable. Abed’s disease combined with his imagination allows for some incredibly entertaining explorations of different genres and tropes used in television. Community’s never before seen style revolutionized the sitcom by showing people that even in what has become the most formulaic of art forms, there is nothing that cannot be done.

Abed, in the famous "paintball episode," Modern Warfare

Abed in the famous “paintball episode,” Modern Warfare

In conclusion, Mitch Hurwitz, Tina Fey and Dan Harmon revolutionized the television industry simply by focusing more on character development and not being afraid to stray from the norms. Hurwitz, Fey and Harmon created shows that featured incredibly realistic and genuine characters with very fast-paced, smart writing. Each show has been praised for its unique qualities and originality; all three stand out amongst the often-formulaic plethora of sitcoms created each year. These three shows have already had an impact on the industry by inspiring other writers and producers to risk creating other unique new shows. Arrested Development, 30 Rock and Community will continue to influence and inspire future minds and will continue to change television and popularize the sitcom for decades to come.



Works Cited

bluthfamilyvalues. “Arrested Development Documentary: Final Trailer.” Youtube. Digital File. 12 Jun. 2009. Web. 9 Dec. 2012.

Edgerton, Gary. Brian Rose.  Thinking Outside the Box: A Contemporary Television Genre Reader. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2005. Print.

IMDb. Amazon. 1990. Web. 20 Oct. 2012.

Pardee, Thomas. “Top Five ComicCon Moments” Photograph. Weblog. 26 July, 2010. Web. 9 Dec. 2012.

Sepinwall, Alan. “Abed goes “Matrix” on “Community”.” Photograph. 6 May 2010. Web. 9 Dec. 2012.

Tigges, Jesse. The List: 10 Best Genre Episodes of Community. Columbus Alive. 31, May. 2012. Web. 20 Oct. 2012.

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